There are approximately 6,500 unreached people groups and roughly 1,200 unengaged people groups on planet earth. All are image bearers of God.
None are worshipping Jesus.
What does this mean for the church? It means at least one thing: we pray.
Here are seven reasons (though there are many other reasons) and two ways (though there are not many better ways, I think) to pray for the unreached and unengaged peoples of the world.
7 Reasons to Pray for the Unreached and Unengaged
1. Obedience. God’s word commands us to pray for all people—that includes the unreached and unengaged (1 Thess 5:17; 1 Tim 2:1–4).
2. Hope. If we pray, God just might answer our prayers, such as Bethlehem Baptist Church reaching twenty-five unengaged people groups by the year 2025—he might even be pleased to allow us to see more. Thirty! Perhaps even thirty-five! The prayer of faith can move mountains—literally. Do you believe that? (Mk 11:20–24).
3. Joy. God desires to see his name exalted among the nations: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Ps 46:10, emphasis mine). But not only that, Psalm 67:4 declares that these nations are to be glad and sing for joy, and in Philippians 4:4, Paul commands the church in Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord” (emphasis mine). Likewise the psalmist commands, “Delight yourself in the LORD” (Ps 37:4, emphasis mine).
4. God cares for the poor. Nearly all of the world’s unengaged and unreached peoples are located in what is called “the 10/40 window” (a rectangular area that stretches from North Africa to Asia, ranging 10 degrees and 40 degrees north of the equator.) Here is where you will find the majority of the world’s poverty—and God deeply loves them (Deut 10:12–19; Matt 5:3; Lk 14:12–14; Gal 2:10; Jas 1:22–2:13).
5. Full harvest. The nations, like a harvest of ripe pumpkins, are ready to be gathered. Lift up your eyes and see. (Lk 10:2; Jn 4:35).
6. Few laborers. There are not many people in America who are willing to drop everything for the dangerous duty of delighting in God through a sacrificial and radically life-risking life given to missions. Therefore, we call upon God to do that which only he can do—namely, send his laborers into the ripe harvest and grant the unreached and unengaged a heart of flesh capable of rooting themselves in Christ-exalting joy. Pray for God to decisively call his people. (Lk 10:2).
7. Confidence. At Bethlehem we celebrate what one of our professors calls, “Big-God Theology.” In other words, we are confident that our sovereign God will accomplish through Christ all that he has promised—specifically, that all of the nations will be penetrated with at least one gospel witness before Jesus Christ returns in his radiant splendor (Matt 24:14). Don’t think “nations” as in political regions such as, the United States, China, Somalia, and Australia. Think more ethnolinguistic people groupings—that is, more or less, sub groups of sub groups of sub groups of people groups. And Matthew 24:14 is a promise. God always fulfills his promises. Therefore, bank on it happening.
2 Ways to Pray for the Unreached and Unengaged
1. Read your Bible. Hidden in the depths of God’s word, on every single page, is God’s heart to magnify his name. Do you see it? Spend a few hours in the Psalms and you will see the Almighty Yahweh exalted high above all things.Read Genesis–Deuteronomy and you will find a God who aims to see his name exalted among all things. Read the book of Hebrews, and you will see the exalted Christ in all his authority and power and strength soaring high above all things. Those are just a few examples. You will see glory in every page. Immerse yourself in it. Then pray it. Pray that the unengaged and the unreached would see such glory in their hearts—they will. Remember, God promised it (Matt 24:14).
2. Use trustworthy, Christ-exalting resources to fan the flame of prayer. Go to joshuaproject.net and find out more about the unreached and unengaged—read their articles, presentations, and prayer guides. Explore other websites like Frontline Missions, Frontier Ventures, Global Prayer Digest, and YWAM. Purchase a copy of Jason Mandryk’s Operation World and Stephen C. Hawthorne and Ralph D. Winter’s Perspectives and begin reading about and praying for missionaries and the nations daily. Read missionary biographies and diaries like Ruth A. Tucker’s From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya and Elisabeth Elliot’s Shadow of the Almighty to fan the flame of missions in your life. There is a peculiar encouragement that comes from reading stories about sinners just like you and me whom God called and used to reach the unreached and unengaged in mighty ways.
So pray for the unreached and unengaged. Pray for them when you rise in the morning. Pray for them when you eat. Pray for them even when you do not want to pray. Pray for them in the evening. Pray for them when you rest your head at night knowing that Christ has secured for you his joy-filled eternal state with people from every nation, tribe and tongue (Rev 7:9–10).
Pray always. Pray without ceasing.
First-year Seminary Student
Please pray for:
1. The unreached and unengaged.
2. Bethlehem Baptist Church’s global partners.
3. Pray for Bethlehem College & Seminary to send graduates to the unengaged, as we partner with Bethlehem Baptist Church in the ‘Fill These Cities: 25 x 25’ vision.
4. Pray for your heart, and mine too, that God would work in our hearts a deep passion to see Christ lifted high among the nations.